Disclaimer: I only own Saoirse Rogers-Barnes, and even then, the concept of a female "insert fandom character here" is old as time. As such, I then only claim the storyline and plot that does not exist in the MCU or Marvel worlds. All credit for things that do belong to the creators of the MCU, Marvel and Stan Lee.
The Woman Behind the Shield
"Women should be respected as well! Generally speaking, men are held in great esteem in all parts of the world, so why shouldn't women have their share? Soldiers and war heroes are honored and commemorated, explorers are granted immortal fame, martyrs are revered, but how many people look upon women too as soldiers?... Women, who struggle and suffer pain to ensure the continuation of the human race, make much tougher and more courageous soldiers than all those big-mouthed freedom-fighting heroes put together!"
— Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl
The sculpture was nothing more than oxidised bronze, her hand beckoning half-truths and the tired. They sailed towards her, encasing themselves in her bosom, asking protecting and offering trust. In return, the statue would smother and crush. To those searching eyes, Lady Liberty was hope; for Saoirse, she meant death.
From her window, Saoirse could see the Lady, watching the sea as the black-storm rolled off the docked boats, semi-protecting the harbour that lay behind her guard. In those sixty-six years, New York had grown, and shifted, transforming into a bustling, no-nonsense, muddled city.
In an ironic turn of events, Brooklyn Heights had become affluent, transforming from the slums of the Great Depression to an area known for its wealthy middle class. A plaque had been stamped outside Saoirse's apartment, proclaiming that this was where the great Captain America had lived; there was no mention of a Saoirse.
There was even a statue. Looming ten feet above everybody else, situated dead centre in Times Square, a steel man guarded the lights. He was strong, six-feet-something, and incredibly broad. He wore his stereotypical suit, stripes, and stars, the All-American Star Spangled Prick. The infamous circular shield rested on his left arm, pulled up to cover his crouched form. Despite the lack of colour, everyone knew who it was; who he was.
It was, Saoirse supposed, a headstone, more than a statue, the final resting place for America's greatest hero; a hero, with nobody. Built by an unidentified benefactor — meaning someone in the government — the statue had been erected to symbolise the rise and fall of the Captain.
Cpt. S. Rogers
1918 - 1945
" I will fear no evil for thou art with me,"
A month had passed since Loki's big "I'm gonna take over Earth" bullshit. Four weeks since the Avengers had saved the city from a bomb. Thirty-one days since Captain America was, as the newsreels put it, "Back from the dead!"
It seemed the public was torn between celebrating the Captain's revival and deemed it inappropriate. According to CNN, it was a "disgrace." They'd all lose their shit if they discovered Captain America was a woman.
New York, as ever, was still picking through the rubble. Although assigned to keeping out of the public eye, Saoirse spent most of those weeks lifting debris and smoking. On that particular dreary afternoon, she sat opposite the statue of her alter ego, blue flame burning in her eyes. Despite Bruce — and Pepper on occasion — explaining that smoking was now, incredibly-dangerous-and-would-lead-to-cancer-so-stop-smoking, it was the only sane thing that Saoirse had left; well that and the rings.
She'd recovered it from Tony, seizing her grandparents-turned-her-own-wedding-rings from their box, the second her stuff came out of storage. Items, such as her sketchbook, and her mother's rosary beads, were tossed around collectors and museums, accumulating billions. Captain America's very existence was laid bare, all the little iffy things that made him tick known world over; or rather, the things that weren't censored.
Information such as his birthdate, name, and occupation was made up. However even if Steven Rogers was born in Brooklyn, and was a boxer who signed up for war, Saoirse was none of those things. She was an immigrant, born in Ireland in a tiny coastal village near the Northern/Southern divide, married to her oldest friend, and everything spectacular came out of a jar — and Saoirse Rogers-Barnes owned it.
Breathing deeply, Saoirse threw the cigarette butt on the ground, crushing it as she stretched. Her break was up.
A short while later she found herself surrounded by another rubble pile, to help the official "clean-uppers" as Natasha called them. With her blonde hair pulled out of her face, the ends scraggily from a four/sixty-six-year long haircut, Saoirse understood the suspicious looks; she looked homeless. Technically, she was, for her apartment in Brooklyn Heights was no longer hers.
Excepting the orange jacket that was thrown her way, Saoirse set to work.
She, along with five others, lifted and recovered bodies, moving the deceased aside, running them in a long line of covered sheets. When she pulled a child from a fallen building, Saoirse exhaled a deep breath, arms carefully resting the boy next to an elderly man. Oh, how cruel was death.
The last time she'd been this close to a body, she had been in France, burying the dead, and some poor girl, a member of the Resistance. The earth had felt hard beneath Saoirse's nails, the red-haired girl's arms stiff with rigour-morts, her neck spliced. The Howling Commandos had buried her in an unmarked grave, her story nameless to the world. It seemed no matter where or when children were always the first to die.
Fists clenched, Saoirse quietly thanked the head cleaner-upper and moved on. She was like a shadow, a rumour told between the groups of the Department of Damage Control.
With the cigarette packet in her back pocket, Saoirse pulled out her StarkPhone and walked into a Starbucks. While she found lattes far too sweet, Saoirse was still partial to coffee. After ordering an Americano, whatever the fuck that was, and with her name spelt wrong for the millionth time, ("It's Saoirse: sare-sha. No not—oh forget it. Write Steph."), she found a seat at the back.
There she unbound her hair, letting the ends fall, earbuds plugged securely in her ears. She sat, listening to an audiobook, eyes staring directly at the wall. She supposed, that if it weren't for her earbuds, she would have looked rather strange, staring off into space, occasionally taking a sip of her coffee, and yet, her mind was world's away.
Much too Tony's, and nearly everyone else's, surprise she managed to pick up technology reasonably easily. There were still moments when she'd blank, staring down at the phone, but compared to her mad-dash-for-freedom through SHIELD's New York Headworkers, Saoirse had adapted.
Her phone buzzed; she looked down. It was a text, from Natasha. Saoirse frowned — what did she want?
Nat: You might want to see this.
Tapping the link, Saoirse found herself watching CNN. Her eyes widened as the headline erupted across the screen, and she felt her stomach drop.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WOMAN BEHIND THE SHIELD.
Saoirse paused, staring up at the screen, at the face that glared up. It was her, both before and after Erskine's formula, side by side, sprawled across Times Square as the world compared.
The photograph depicting Saoirse pre-serum, revealed a bone-thin young woman, her cheekbones far too prominent to be healthy. Someone's arm was wrapped around her shoulders; her lips cracked into a wicked, wild grin. It was Bucky's arm, her memories taunted, his seventeenth birthday.
The transformation was startling.
Taller, Saoirse stood, surrounded by the Howling Commandos, arms crossed. Although her hair was pulled out of her face, strands escaped from her ponytail. She was stronger, broader, shield strapped to her back. She was leaning on Bucky, his arms wrapped around her middle, her head lowered as she and her team laughed at something Dum-Dum had said.
Her phone exploded.
Setting it down, Saoirse winced as it vibrated, as if someone was creating a miniature hurricane inside the metal and glass, the table humming. Setting her hands on the coffee table, Saoirse glanced up, warily watching those around her. For the first few seconds, she was just a passerby, another coffee drinker in the King of Coffeehouses, and then eyes were spotting, the heads were turning, and the phones were flashing.
Shaking, Saoirse rose from her table, shrugging off her orange vest, suddenly wishing she'd brought a coat. But the July summer was coming soon, seeping into June, so like every other sensible person, she'd left her jacket at home. A choice she now regretted.
She spun onto Times Square, quickly walking past pedestrians, head tucked into her shoulder. Reaching up, she pulled the hair tie from her hair, letting the blonde fall. She shrunk, trying to seem small, or at least, smaller than Captain America's infamous six-foot-two.
Moving, she walked into a group of huddled people, their mouth open as they stared up at the screen.
A shaking video of her and Bucky blurred across Times Square. The two spun and laughed, feet moving to swinging-jazz, and fast moving steps. For almost seventy years, the woman dancing with the Sergeant was unknown, although she was considered to be a nurse. Both were dressed into their uniforms, earthy tones, although hidden by the black-and-white image. They spun around each other, moving like water, smiling faces, glittering.
Biting her lip, Saoirse closed her eyes. History commemorated Captain America and the Sargent; it failed to remember Saoirse and Bucky Rogers-Barnes. Half a second ago they were less. Now, they were more.
So, yeah, this is happening. I hope you've enjoyed. Next chapter will be longer.